Arsenal have posed an all-round stronger unit of late. Still far from perfect, there is now more movement in the final third, positive actions on the ball and goals as a result. One element, however, has remained pathetically bad throughout.
It is, of course, corners.
To clarify, not defending them. To elaborate further, not defending set pieces in general, either.
In that department Arsenal have come on leaps and bounds this season. Last term, the Gunners conceded 15 goals from set pieces in the Premier League. This time around that number sits at just the solitary goal. If we’re being unkind, then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s own-goal was scored from an opposition corner, so let’s make it two in total.
Going the other direction, Arsenal posed a genuine threat from dead balls in 2019/20, finding the back of the net 12 times across the campaign. Fast forward to the 19 matches played this term and that figure sits at a measly three*.
Arsenal are shocking at corners and set pieces
*One of those being Granit Xhaka‘s free-kick, the other being Gabriel Magalhaes’ header from Willian which shouldn’t count as a corner since there were four touches and two passes building up to his eventual cross into the box.
Have English opposition just become better at defending these situations? Or is the crux of the issue caused from within?
After convincingly seeing off Newcastle 3-0 last time out, Arsenal brought up their overall corner tally to 76 attempted into the area (Orbinho). How many have found a target? 12. That’s it. Twelve. Just over 15%.
Bringing in Andreas Georgson, a certified ‘set piece specialist’, from Brentford has worked wonders. The defensive side of this imperative footballing component deserves undoubted praise. Gone are the days of fearing every ball into the box, as spacial awareness, communication and reading of danger has improved dramatically.
For the Swede, he must be tearing his hair out at the other end of the pitch.